Friday, March 25, 2011

Finally Friday Edition

The end of the health reform anniversary week, and the day before our big fundraiser , here's the news:

As pressure to deal with the deficit mounts, Dems weigh whether to tackle Social Security. This is sort of interesting because Social Security is paid for out of its own fund and has absolutely nothing to do with the deficit. If they were looking at Medicare and Medicaid, although I'd be really nervous, I'd understand it. But Social Security? Makes no sense. Meanwhile, though, the Dems and advocates try to come up with a response to the GOP's huge Medicaid cuts, bracing for some cuts, but hoping they will be far smaller than the GOP proposal.

The GOP are also preparing to ratchet up the heat if another short-term budget deal is needed in the absence of an agreement by April 8, when the current funding runs out. They want to tack on defunding of the programs they don't like -- health reform being number one. This may be needed to satisfy the Tea Party conservatives and get enough votes in the House. But this sort of deal has already been rejected in the Senate, and the President will never sign it. Are we heading towards gridlock and a shut down? Everybody hopes not, but there's no clear path to compromise.

Indeed, Senate Dems plan to use health reform to help them in 2012. They are banking on polls that show most Americans don't want full repeal or defunding. They are betting that GOP candidates are going to have to keep promising repeal or defunding to hold onto the hard right, and this will alienate moderates. I guess we'll find out!

Amidst all the budget cutting, Lance Armstrong heads to DC to push for more cancer funding. He says cancer is not a political issue. Health care shouldn't be, either.

The Government Accountability Office says if you're denied coverage of a prescribed treatment, file an appeal. 39-59 percent of appeals are successful. Our rate is about 85%. And if you need to dispute a medical bill, here's some important info that will help you negotiate a good resolution.

This is a really important story. A child has a life-threatening peanut allergy, so her parents go to the school and ask for accommodations -- the other kids have to wash their hands and faces when they come to school and after they eat, and rinse out their mouths as well, to avoid contaminating the child with the allergy. The other parents raise a huge fuss, suggesting that the allergic child be home-schooled. The school finally caves and eliminates the requirement that the kids have to rinse their mouths. WHAT ARE THESE PARENTS THINKING? You should have to home-school your child because she has a disability? The truth is I've heard this many times before. We have sick kids quarantined in their homes for no other reason than they're sick and the school won't figure out a way to meet their special needs. This is TOTALLY against the law, but it happens every day.

In what has to be a disastrous move, Michigan cuts unemployment benefits and other states consider doing the same. In Michigan, it was part of a compromise to preserve the 20 weeks of federal unemployment by reducing future aid for the unemployed.

The marvelous Dr. Pauline Chen explains why it's safe to have residents in the operating room when you go under the knife.

Americans are into sleep deprivation, called "sleep machismo." I sort of get that. And sleep-deprived people eat more calories a day -- in search of the sugar rush.

And that's it for this morning. Have a great day! Jennifer

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